Thursday, October 10, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Ghosts of Ben Lomond

Photo by Carolyn G. Lynn
Ben Lomond Historic Site is located at 10321 Sudley Manor Drive, approximately two miles from the Manassas Battlefield.

Once owned by Robert "Councillor" Carter III, the plantation was inherited by Benjamin Tasker Chinn in 1830 who built the house that stands there today.  Before the Civil War, the farm was worked using slave labor, producing corn, wheat, and Merino sheep.

Before the Civil War, the farm was leased to the Pringle family.  In the days after the Battle of First Manassas, the Pringles and all of their possessions were crammed into a single bedroom while the house was commandeered and converted into a Confederate field hospital.  For approximately a month after the battle, the house and its grounds were crowded with wounded soldiers, many of whom did not survive.  In 1862, at the time of the Battle of Second Manassas, Union troops occupied the house, destroying furniture and scrawling graffiti on the interior walls. 

After the Civil War, the house passed through several hands, including those of a distant cousin of mine, Charles Craig Lynn, who operated a successful dairy farm in the late 1930's.

Now owned by Prince William County, the house and grounds were "restored" to replicate the appearance and conditions of a Confederate field hospital of 1861 and is open to the public May 1 through October 31. In addition to the main house, several outbuildings remain -- including a slave cabin -- and a rose garden that contains one of the largest collections of Old Garden Roses in the DC Metropolitan area.

With so much history and trauma, is Ben Lomond/Pringle House haunted?   

In the October 30, 1985 Manassas Journal Messenger, the gentleman leasing the house from the county "...says that the house is haunted by a ghost which he feels is a Civil War soldier."  He explained that there was a baby grand piano in the house at the time; several times he found the lid raised when there was no one else in the house.  "I'd put it back down and go back and find it up again," he said.

Volunteers working on the rose garden behind the house have described the sensation of being watched and one turned to see a figure standing by an upstairs window when no one was in the house.  Other claims include hearing the sound of footsteps walking on hardwood floors where no footsteps should have been.  I myself have heard those phantom footsteps and have no explanation for them!

Who walks the halls of Ben Lomond?  Is it a weary surgeon, making his rounds among the wounded and dying crowded into every room and up the stairway?  Or is it one of the farm's many owners?  

Are you brave enough to find out for yourself?

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